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A jar of homemade pesto sauce.

Simple, Fresh Homemade Pesto Sauce with Pasta


Adapted from The Garden of Eden

If you’re looking to make a large quantity of pesto, follow this recipe: Large Batch Basil Pesto


For the pesto sauce:

  • 3 to 4 cups herbs, such as basil, cilantro, parlsey, chives, etc., rinsed
  • 1/4 cup nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated dry salty cheese such as Pecorino or Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano

For the pasta:

  • 1/2 lb. pasta, something like gemelli or orecchiette
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto sauce
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, optional


  1. Make the pesto: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and purée until nicely blended. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
  2. Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a large pinch of salt. Cook pasta al dente, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid back into the pan. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and add 1/4 cup of the pesto. Stir with the water until blended. Add the pasta to the pan and stir/toss until the pasta is nicely coated. At this point, keep adding pesto to the pasta one tablespoon at a time, stopping when it tastes good to you.
  4. Serve pasta passing grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the side if desired.


To prevent discoloration when storing pesto, it is best to put a thin layer of olive oil over the pesto and then cover it.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: American, Italian

Keywords: pesto, sauce, basil, herbs, nuts, lemon, olive oil, parmesan, summer